South Haven Rail Bridge

Deck Girder Viaduct over Clearwater River and Rockwood Avenue
Near South Haven, Wright County, Minnesota

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Name South Haven Rail Bridge
Built By Minneapolis, St. Paul & Sault Ste. Marie Railway
Contractor Unknown
Currently Owned By Canadian Pacific Railway
Length 416 Feet Total, 60 Foot Largest Spans
Width 1 Track
Height Above Ground 70 Feet (Estimated)
Superstructure Type Deck Girder Viaduct
Substructure Type Steel Tower and Concrete
Date Built Ca. 1910
Traffic Count 8 Trains/Day (Estimated)
Current Status In Use
Significance Moderate Significance
In 1886, the Soo Line Railroad built a line from Minneapolis, Minnesota to a point well past the Boiux De Sioux River near Nashua.
The line served as a critical mainline, connecting the lines from Chicago to North Dakota and Montana, with Minneapolis being in the center.
At Minneapolis, connecting to the line heading towards Wisconsin, the new line had to cross the Mississippi River.
Continuing west, the route went through such towns as Rockford, Buffalo, Kimball, Glenwood, and Elbow Lake.
The new line opened up a possibility for expansion, including a branch line towards Noyes and far northern Minnesota.

The line continued to be operated by Soo Line until 1987, when the Soo Line was purchased by Canadian Pacific Railway.

Today, the line is a key mainline for hauling oil between the Bakken Oil Field in western North Dakota to Chicago.

This massive viaduct crosses the Clearwater River and Rockwood Avenue near South Haven, at the Wright County line.
The bridge was reported by the National Bridge Inventory as having been built in 1937, although the author believes this is highly inaccurate.
The bridge features severely spalled substructures, which indicate a much earlier structure. In addition, the Soo Line did a fair amount of work on this line and others in 1910; leading to a conclusion of an approximately 1910 build date.
The main bridge contains numerous trestle spans, which rest on steel towers. Below, concrete substructures hold it all together.
Despite how it towers over the valley below, this bridge appears to have seen better days. Particularly the substructures are of concern, with severe spalling.

The author has ranked this bridge as being moderately significant, due to the massive and imposing structure. Despite this, the bridge appears to be in a fair to poor condition.
The photo above is looking east along the bridge.


Source Type


Build Date Estimated based on similar structures
Railroad Line History Source ICC Valuation Information, Compiled by Richard S. Steele

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